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About

I am an American who has lived in Norway for nearly ten years with my husband (also American) and two children. Before coming to Norway we lived in Canada and the U.K., which makes the idea of “home” difficult to locate and define. In 1942 Simone Weil wrote, “To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” This blog reflects a desire for rootedness, but an uncertainty about what this means in a transitory world. It is also an attempt at coming to terms with Norway not just being “where I live,” but “home.”

I work as an associate professor of English literatures at the University of Stavanger. I have a PhD in Comparative Literature.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Bobbie permalink
    24 June 2011 04:57

    Hi,

    Thank you for your blog πŸ™‚

    Me and my Norwegian husband are moving from the US to Norway next summer. Do you mind if I email you and ask you a few Q’s?

    Thanks!

    • jenaconti permalink
      26 June 2011 21:17

      Hi again, Bobbie — For the sake of any others with questions on coming to Norway I just wanted to post a link to the Expat blog forum for Norway:

      http://www.expat-blog.com/forum/viewforum.php?id=347

      This is a great place to meet other expats living in Norway and find out more about living here.

  2. 26 June 2011 15:56

    Just came across your blog while googling on Mr. Melk πŸ˜‰ and saw your other posts relating to immigration in Norway. Very interesting insights, especially when most other (expat) blogs in Norway are rather superficial and tend to focus on happy-go-lucky lives.

    I live in Denmark and at some point I thought Norway is better at handling immigration issues, but it scares me that the trend is going to the wrong way (as in Denmark it is now – if you probably read the news what’s up in this little country I live in).

    Keep blogging!

    • jenaconti permalink
      26 June 2011 21:23

      Thanks for reading and for your kind comments! (Surely Mr. Melk hasn’t reached Denmark?!)

      I think that in Norway, as in many other places, people worry more and more about what concepts like “nation” and “identity” mean when immigrants are unable or unwilling to conform to definition of what it means to be Norwegian (or Danish or British or anything else). While the trend seems to be going in the wrong direction, I also recognize that difficult questions without easy answers are being raised.

  3. 27 June 2011 10:33

    I lived in Oslo for a year in 2009 and back then they didn’t have Mr. Melk – this is why I googled it directly when a friend of mine told me about him. I immediately got fascinated by the ping pong ad LOL

    About the nationalism, it’s a sad trend, really. I heard that in Norway the fremskridtpartiet is gaining foot and I sure hope it won’t end like in DK where fremskridtsparty’s role model Danish Folkeparti is actually in the government and dictating policies and rules that hurt us foreigners here.

  4. Deborah Hefferon permalink
    23 October 2011 11:51

    Hi,

    What a wondrous blog – thank you! I will be traveling to Norway in Nov. at the invitation of the Fulbright Commission in Oslo. I’ll just be there for a week (Oslo. Bergen + Stavanger) giving presentations and workshops to students, counselors, teachers, etc. on various topics connected to US higher education, US culture and professional enrichment. I wondered if I might ask you a question regarding one of the presentations I will make to Norwegian university students who will be coming to the US to study? I have been asked to talk about US culture but I only want to focus on the cultural values that might be more challenging for the students. From reading your posts and some other resources, it seems that the value of individualism would merit attention. Are there other cultural values that you would stress? Thanks so much.

  5. 24 October 2011 12:49

    Hi Deborah! Thanks for reading and congratulations on receiving a Fulbright invitation! It sounds like you will have a very interesting and busy week! I think focusing on more challenging issues of American culture is a good one, as Norwegians (and most of the world!) are already so in tune with the superficialities of American culture from movies, books and music. American individualism is certainly very different from the idea of the “individual” that Norwegians hold. In teaching Amer. Lit. I have found students very interested in the idea of the “self-made man” (from Ben Franklin to Emerson and Thoreau and others) and the strange mix of Protestant work ethic and puritanism that gave rise to our specific brand of individualism. I think we have the idea that we work to earn all aspects of our lives, whereas Norwegians take what humans “deserve” as a given, and work becomes simply how you spend your time each day. So individual success is also thought of differently in Norway, and there is much much much less importance placed on “rising to the top” and much more importance placed on one’s personal happiness and security in life.

    I noticed this even in one of the comments on my post “Everyone is Nice” where the idea in Norway seems to be: if you need to be first in line, than by all means, go in front of me. Whereas in the U.S. we think: hey! I got here first! Don’t cut! (As if we had worked hard to get there first and thus deserved to be first.) … and herein lies at least one of the answers for why Americans don’t want socialized health care (a real puzzle to a Norwegian mindset!).

    On a lighter note, one student who had been on an exchange program to the U.S. told me how funny she thought it was that the stereotypes in films and TV were actually true: she couldn’t believe that there were actual groups of cheerleaders, jocks, nerds, punks, etc. who hung out in specific groups. I thought that was funny, esp. in light of individualism, because Norwegian students don’t have such visible cliques. And certainly the majority don’t self-identify in such obvious ways.

    Good luck and enjoy your visit!

  6. Deborah Hefferon permalink
    11 November 2011 12:51

    Thanks so much for your insightful and thoughtful response! Your perspective is really helpful guidance. I just read “In Cod We Trust.” I hope you are writing a book. All the best for the coming winter months. Wishing you light!
    Deborah in DC

  7. 22 November 2011 03:08

    Came across your blog and was immediately hooked by the title…”uprooted.” I was searching for a picture of the dinosaur for “my many colored days” because I am doing a post about being alone.

    You blog came up through my search and I read your title and just thought… wow! That’s EXACTLY what I’m talking about.

    Being alone.

    You see, I’ve never really been alone before in my life. I have no idea what it’s like to be uprooted. I’ve moved ONCE in my life- 50 miles down the street. That move was so traumatic that I decided I hated moving and never wanted to do it again.

    Now I’m face, once more, with another huge move.

    I’m moving out of my childhood. I’m moving out on my own. I fear more then anything else I have ever feared before in my life that I will move away from the home I love so dearly- I fear that life will lead me into someplace

    Alone.

    I fear what I know is inevitable.

    One day, I will leave this place in search of new adventures that I never even asked for.

    Thanks so much for sharing. I look forward to reading more!

    • 22 November 2011 12:26

      Hi Tina, Thanks for reading and for your comments. I never knew that I would one day move to Norway, or live in Norway, but it has become a part of the experiences (good and bad) that make up a life — my life! And, like Dr. Suess’s book, I think it’s important that we learn to accept the gray days, the purple days and of course the happy pink days, as days that are all able to teach us something about ourselves and the world we live in. I think there are many, many people out there living new adventures they never asked for, or never knew they would have, but who still say: “I’m glad I did this! I’m glad I got to have this experience! … even though I’m lonely and sad some days.” Good luck with your adventures!

  8. 16 March 2012 16:34

    Hello your blog has been listed in our magazine Our Amazing Norway!

    • 16 March 2012 19:54

      Thank you!

      • Erik permalink
        15 December 2012 03:34

        Hi

        I visited this blog by chance, and found it most entertaining and quite interesting as well. First, any misspelling, due come to me being one of the locals (that beeing bergenser, norwegian). But then again, probably could have been worse. Anaway, I had really an hillarious time reading Your reflection on living in Norway as a foreigner. I could absolutly understand Your viewes on the norwegian custums. And reading them, I was thinking: of cousrse this is how it is supposed to be (of course the norwegian way), but also see that it (the norwegian way) is absolutely comical. I made a couple of reflactions; we think that out nighbours is not nesceserrially our friend; they are just by chance the people living next too us, which do not mean that we have anyting in common (and we really do not hope they wil come running at our door at regulary basis when we will watch tv or what ever). And about the weather; haven’t really thought about it before. Anayway, hope that at least it is an okay country to live in, and please write some more πŸ™‚

  9. 3 April 2012 13:47

    I think your blog and I are going to be great comrades..

  10. 23 August 2012 18:03

    Hi– I just stumbled across your blog, most gratefully, since i recently moved to Norway myself (from the States). Also being a rather uprooted individual (I moved to Canada at 18 where I have been bopping around for the last 7 years… with a yearlong layover in England), I am intrigued to hear about your experiences, and, at the risk of being too bold (perhaps we Americans can handle this forwardness), I was wondering if you might be interested in meeting for coffee in Bergen sometime (I am currently living in Knarvik). Or, I would be more than happy to just pick your brain via e-mail. (mine is e_beth73@yahoo.com). I just discovered ex-pat blog also and and am figuring out how to navigate it, so perhaps that is better way to connect. your prerogative. but, thanks for writing and sharing your experiences πŸ™‚

  11. Mario permalink
    13 December 2012 13:57

    Hi,

    How are you? πŸ™‚

    My name’s Mario and I work for an international relocation company.

    As part of our services we offer cross-cultural training for the families which are due to relocate.

    I have come across your blog whilst researching for suitable professionals in Norway

    We are expanding our operations in Bergen and I was wondering if you may be interested or may know someone who is interested in working as cross-cultural trainer in a freelance collaborative partnership with us?

    Please let me know if this may be of interest to you or to any of your close contacts so I can provide more details.

    Many thanks and kind regards
    Mario
    mario.corticeiro@cartus.com

  12. 28 February 2013 12:32

    Dear jenaconti,

    I came across your blog and learned that you live in Bergen. My company publishes an iPhone app consisting of self-guided walking tours in Bergen. However, these walking tours were compiled three years ago and some of the information may be out of date. We are looking for people who currently live in Bergen to review the tour content and give us feedback.

    Would you be interested in reviewing our walking tours in Bergen or posting a “Look for reviewers” announcement for us in your blog? We offer reward to people who send us feedback. The reviewers will receive gift codes for our iOS walking tours apps. Each gift code is good for a free walking tour iPhone app download, normally priced at US$4.99. We have walking tour apps covering all major cities in the world.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards,

    Xena Copilova
    xenac@gpsmycity.com
    GPSmyCity.com

  13. Tim permalink
    2 July 2014 04:09

    Hi Jena
    I came across your blog online I was searching about different ways to move to Norway. My wife and I currently live in Chicago, she is a norwegian citizen and we would love to move there but we have such a hard time finding information from udi on what we have to do. I don’t know if I should go there with my wife and process the papers from Norway or from here? One thing I came across is they want income from her to support me but she hasn’t lived there to have income in Norway. We have lived here and we have income in America so does that count at all or anything. What do you recommend we do we are really confused so I would appreciate if you can give me any help on how this process works. Thank you so much Tim

  14. 17 July 2014 01:03

    Nice blog!
    We also are expats living in Norway, and have created a blog about everyday life in Bergen, in English: http://www.voilabergen.com, trying to cover interesting sites, attractions, restaurants, museums, hiking walks, Norwegian culture, etc.

  15. Joyce permalink
    12 December 2014 03:50

    Dear jenaconti,

    My name is Joyce and I work for ExpatFinder.com.
    ExpatFinder.com is a free one stop website for people preparing to move or working and living overseas. We provide a myriad of services for expatriates and we have over 2,000 articles to help and support the people moving around the world and we are now creating an interview section to help the expats with real life experiences!
    We quite enjoy your blog about living in Norway, it is very interesting and informative. Would it be possible to interview you to further share some of your tips and feature some of your first hand experience as an Expat and your interview will be published on our Expat Interview section as a guide for our expat readers. The questions are mainly about the day to day lifestyle of an expat. If it would be possible, could you also send some photographs that we can use?
    Of course, if you accept, we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.
    The questions are enclosed, feel free to respond freely. You can return the doc with your answers if you accept this invitation.
    Thanks in advance and do let me know if you prefer other means to conduct this interview and we would be happy to accommodate your terms.

    Best regards,
    Joyce

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